6 health benefits in your spice rack

Turmeric may be found on your kitchen’s spice rack, but this relative of ginger has so many health benefits for men that it also belongs in your medicine cabinet.

Both turmeric and one of its components, curcumin, have been used for centuries by practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurvedic medicine. Turmeric is also a large part of the diet in India and Southeast Asia, where it is used in curries. In fact, turmeric is often recognized as one of the main reasons for lower rates of cancer in India and Southeast Asia.

In recent times, more than 5,600 published studies on turmeric and curcumin found more than 600 potential preventive and therapeutic uses for them. Many men take turmeric or curcumin today to fight inflammation and promote prostate health. The turmeric plant may have many more diverse benefits for men’s health, including promoting heart health and fighting depression, diabetes and cancer.

If you are looking for a natural approach to wellness, turmeric just may be one of the healthiest spices and safest places to start.

Turmeric for prostate health

As men age, many of their heath concerns have to do with the health of their prostate. Turmeric supports aging prostate health because of its many phytochemicals, antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties.

India has a very low rate of prostate cancer, which scientists at Rutgers thought may be due to the diet in India, as Indian men eat a lot of plant-based foods, including turmeric. The researchers injected turmeric and a phytonutrient found in cruciferous vegetables into prostate cancer cells. This combination reduced well-establish prostate cancer tumors.

Peptic ulcers

If you suffer from peptic ulcers or other digestive problems, curcumin may provide relief. In one study, 25 patients with peptic ulcers took two 300-mg capsules of turmeric five times a day. After four weeks, 12 of the 25 patients (48 percent) no longer had evidence of ulcers. After 12 weeks of treatment, 19 (76 percent) of the patients were ulcer-free. An additional 20 patients involved in the study appeared to have gastritis, heartburn and erosions. They took turmeric for four weeks. They reported satisfactory relief during the first two weeks.

Inflammation

Men commonly take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for pain and inflammation, but many men do not realize the health risks of taking these medications long-term, especially since many of the drugs are available over the counter. However, these drugs can cause damaging long-term side effects such as bleeding in the gut, kidney damage, indigestion and ulcers. Men may find a safer alternative in curcumin.

Health benefits of tumericOne study on Meriva curcumin (a proprietary form of curcumin that has been formulated to improve absorption) found that curcumin and another supplement, resveratrol, were effective alternatives to several anti-inflammatory drugs. The researchers in this study concluded that Meriva curcumin is worth considering for long-term management of osteoarthritis, which is a chronic condition that requires a prolonged treatment.

Patients often take corticosteroids for conditions like joint pain or inflammation and immune response. But these drugs also cause several side effects, some of which can be severe. In an animal study for protecting lung transplantation-associated injury, curcumin compared favorably to the corticosteroid drug dexamethasone by down-regulating inflammatory genes.

Depression

Turmeric has been long been used in Chinese medicine to treat depression, and modern studies also confirm that curcumin seems to have a positive effect on a person’s psychological health. A 2011 study found that curcumin compared favorably to the antidepressant drugs Prozac (fluoxetine) and Tofranil (imipramine).

Diabetes

Curcumin may be more effective than the popular diabetes drug metformin. A 2009 study found curcumin to be 400 times more potent than metformin. When bioactive antioxidant compounds from curcuminoids called tetrahydrocurcuminoids (THC) were given, the results were very dramatic. The study found that THCs are 100,000 times more effective than metformin. A study on diabetic rats found that THC improves the specific insulin binding to the receptors significantly, reaching near-normal levels.

Heart health

A double-blind study that was published in the American Journal of Cardiology involved 121 consecutive non-emergency heart-bypass-operation patients. Researchers gave half of the patients 1 gram of curcumin four times a day, three days before the surgery and five days after. The other half received a placebo. The curcumin group had a 65 percent lowered risk of heart attack post-surgery. The curcumin group also showed significantly lower levels of oxidative stress markers in their blood and lower levels of inflammation.

The best form of turmeric and curcumin

Curcumin is what gives curry its flavorful kick, but it can be challenging to eat enough curcumin or turmeric to make a difference in your health. Plus, curcumin is difficult to absorb into the body’s cells. That is why many men turn to a modified form of curcumin called Meriva curcumin phytosome. Meriva curcumin is a more bioavailable form than other standard extracts. That is why supplements for men’s health like Prost-P10x contain Meriva curcumin phytosome.

Turmeric and curcumin are considered safe supplements. However, if taken in larger-than-recommended amounts and/or for long periods of time, they can cause ulcers. Rarely, some people may experience diarrhea, upset stomach, nausea or dizziness.

 

References:

Belcaro, Gianni. Efficacy and safety of Meriva®, a curcumin-phosphatidylcholine complex, during extended administration in osteoarthritis patients. Altern Med Rev. 2010 Dec;15(4):337-44.

Biosci, J. Effect of tetrahydrocurcumin on insulin receptor status in type 2 diabetic rats: studies on insulin binding to erythrocytes. 2008 Mar;33(1):63-72.

Louis, P.F. Protect your heart with turmeric. Natural News. April 2012.

Prucksunand C. et al. Phase II clinical trial on effect of the long turmeric (Curcuma longa Linn) on healing of peptic ulcer. Southeast Asian J Trop Med Public Health 2001 Mar; 32(1):208-15

Sanmukhani, J., et al. Evaluation of antidepressant like activity of curcumin and its combination with fluoxetine and imipramine: an acute and chronic study. Acta Pol Pharm. 2011 Sep-Oct;68(5):769-75.

Sun, Jiayuan., et al. Preventive effects of curcumin and dexamethasone on lung transplantation-associated lung injury in rats. Crit Care Med. 2008 Apr;36(4):1205-13.

Usharani, P., et al. Effect of NCB-02, atorvastatin and placebo on endothelial function, oxidative stress and inflammatory markers in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus: a randomized, parallel-group, placebo-controlled, 8-week study. Drugs R D. 2008;9(4):243-50.

 

Dr. Geo Espinosa

By Dr. Geo Espinosa

Dr. Geo Espinosa is a naturopathic doctor, licensed acupuncturist and certified functional medicine practitioner recognized as an authority in holistic urology and men’s health. He is Clinical Assistant Professor and holistic clinician in Urology at New York University Langone Medical Center. As an avid researcher and writer, Dr. Geo has authored numerous scientific papers and books including co-editing the Integrative Sexual Health book, and author of the best selling prostate cancer book: Thrive, Don't Only Survive.